• Published 16th Apr 2014
  • 7,152 Views, 1,812 Comments

Besides the Will of Evil - Jetfire2012

A shadow from the deep past returns to threaten Equestria, along with all the world. Can Twilight Sparkle and her friends be a light in the dark?

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Chapter 37

Wrath came billowing in light upon the low plains of Equestria, setting air and water trembling like the stringèd tremors of a symphony. Burning, blazing, eating up the black skies came the Elders, one by one in trembling strains of light. Glorfindel arrived the first of all, and his was youthful fury, hot and daring, glimmering within his turquoise eyes. Then all now together came the sisters- Nona, Decima, and Morta- triple-colored red and green and blue, glorious and gentle, careful and reserved, echoing with hatred all the same. Then in swelling golden fury there came Fëanor, Fëanor the brother of Gil-Galad, Fëanor the last king of the elk. A radiance like fresh-waxed bronze was on him. Power and destruction tremored from his great and many-forking antlers. Hate as deep and black as night was lurking in the darkened centers of his eyes.

Then came Twilight Sparkle. Like a counter-melody among the soaring symphony she teleported into view. Glancing all about her she soon felt that she was out of place. She held not the high deer's hate. She thought, she dreamed she might have hated Reiziger; how foolish she had been? What knew she of wrath? What had she felt that was like the way the Herd Lord, black and terrible, had slaughtered and devoured all the splendor of the deerfolk all those centuries ago? She had lost her home. The deer around her had lost everything they loved. They had nursed their hate for countless moons and suns. It made her feel so very small.

Black and wicked stuck the Herd Lord's castle from the mountains, such a cruel and vicious mockery of Canterlot that now was dead. Twilight saw it, still could picture all the golden towers and white spires, and she felt perhaps a bit more kinship with the Elders standing, hating all around her. Not enough, however, so she stood, and did not speak.

Fëanor stepped forward. “Herd Lord,” he said, voice even and level but erupting with the clarity of sunshine, “Herd Lord, come, come and reckon with us.”

No response at first came from the castle. Fëanor curled up his lip. “Herd Lord!” he exclaimed, losing some regality as anger crept into his voice.

What is this?

Darkness simmered out into the air. Shadow wrapped and bent and twisted in a shape a mile wide, forging brambled antlers and a curling, sneering muzzle. Just as he had done that day above the skies of Canterlot, now Reiziger, the Lord of All the Herds, projected his head at enormous size into the sky. Red eyes blossomed in the last of all, glowing huge and bright like dying stars. White teeth tower-sized were shown as the great face split in a grin.

Is that Fëanor I see? And is that Nona, Decima, and Morta- the three kissing cousins? Morta's eyes went narrow at this, but her sisters did not move. And you... who are you, little elk? Glorfindel did not respond. And is that- Twilight Sparkle! So you have forsaken your race, and your friends, and your princesses?

“I...” Twilight pulled back trembling, “I... no! I haven't- I haven't forsaken them! It's just... I...”

Oh, I don't blame you. You were tired of failure, so you changed sides. It's only natural- even if you did exchange a lesser failure for an even greater one!

“Herd Lord,” said Fëanor, voice bright like the dancing of the light on adamant, “Herd Lord, come down here. Come and fight with us.”

Why should I?, thundered Reiziger. Why will you not come and see my court? I spent such time constructing it, but it has been so lonely. Come now, Fëanor. Let us be civilized.

“Come out, Herd Lord, or I shall scrape your castle off the mountainside.”

Are you really going to be so hasty? Savor this moment, Fëanor. Treasure these last minutes before your doom. I can only-

Fëanor moved one small gentle step, and tossed his head. There came off of his antlers something like the slaying of a sun, a light Twilight could not see, could not bear the brilliance. For a moment she could see the shadow castle blooming in the golden light as though it were some darkened rose in springtime- then it flashed away and with it all the mountainside. Naught was left of that tremendous peak.

Far away, the magic could be seen and heard and felt. Fluttershy's wings felt like they were burning. “Oh my goodness,” she whispered, as the gold light blossomed in the sky.

“It has begun,” said Nordeshang. “They will do great damage. I only hope it can be repaired.”

“Hmm,” said Pinkie Pie, rubbing her hoof up against her chin. Her eyebrows sharply rose. “Oh! Mister Nordeshang! Depending on how the battle goes, do you think you can do me a favor?”

Nordeshang glanced down at her. “That depends- what did you have in mind?”


Even as Twilight adjusted to the blast, however, on the very nearby mountain the great castle reappeared. Like black paint smeared upon a canvas those old shadowed towers reemerged, rekindled, burning up like candles made of pitch.

Very well, then. I shall just have to come down and deal with you!

So out of his great castle came Reiziger, steps like pounding hammers on the fabric of the stars. Crimson flames were burning on his blackened brambled antlers, crimson eyes like pits of Tartarus were set inside his pitch black head. He came and was enormous and the shadows all were with him. Twilight saw him and she knew fear now, for Reiziger was in a killing mood. Fëanor came forth and threw at him a wave of light.

The shadow rose and surged, red fire coming with it. It washed like a great ocean tide upon the land. All was swept away within its fury but the Elders did not stop. Light like sea and sunset, star and moonlight, played upon their high and mighty antlers, flashing with the power of the Wills That Draw the World. Twilight Sparkle no longer had time to think. The sheer backwash of magic that now swept upon her nearly tore her into atoms. Instead she merely surged- and fought.

Reiziger and all the Elders were like currents battling upon the sea. Fëanor, the first, was at the front, and from him washed the power that scraped grass from dirt and turned the mountains in his path to dust. It seemed as though a Sun were sitting on his antlers, so great and bright and golden were they. Gold light too was gleaming in his eyes, a gold light like his greatest student's sunlight, only this was harsh and overpowering, not life-giving. He sniffed out shadow and it vanished, vaporized by all the gold light's brilliance, along with all else that was in his way. He merely glanced upon a thing- a hill, a forest, a great city- and it came undone.

Glorfindel around and near him was as terrible. His light and fire were not quite as hot as Fëanor's, but somehow they were brighter, turquoise magic gleaming and destroying like the flarings of the sea. Shadow came about him but his faith was great, his focus righteous, and the darkness did not touch him, for he would not know it and it could not stand his midst. In rays of blue-green sunshine like the shining shimmering of growing life Glorfindel charged the herd lord, a star- so many stars- thrusting itself into a black hole. Reiziger the Herd Lord, Butcher of the Elk, marked him with the flaring of his fiery gaze and saw that he was brave- perhaps too brave, for shadows marshaled and the turquoise seemed to dim before them. Golden light came then and wiped away all in its path, for Fëanor would not see the last elk beside himself so easily be beat.

Nona, Decima, and Morta danced and surged like skimming boats upon the storm of shadow, on the blackened sea that cast all things in night and drew its power from all things that lived. They threw their might and fury at the shadow in their triple colors, one red and one blue and lastly one green. So often they were grouped together, and they did not mind, even in the days when there were many red deer, for they were dear sisters all, they loved each other, and they looked after each other, Looking too, their Sight beyond sight teaching each of them what both the others should be doing. Here and now, amid this light and storm, they charged with wrath upon the Herd Lord, fencing in his might and bending his own crimson fire back upon himself. Reiziger was always trying to devour them but they could See him coming, and they quickly danced aside out of the gnashings of his infinite white teeth.

In the midst of this, Twilight Sparkle nearly lost herself. She had long since stopped attempting to take in- to comprehend- what happened now around her. Even she, who had been witness to great magics that her fellow ponies never could have dreamed, was flailing, drowning in the overwhelming power sloshing to and fro. To move- to make sure she was not completely vaporized or torn apart- she fell into her oldest instincts, those teachings she'd learned as just a baby when her mother had instructed her on safety using magic. Move toward the cold, move away from the heat. Move toward the light, move away from the darkness. Yet even such essential lessons seemed to fail her, for the Shadow of the Enemy was everywhere. Thus she tapped a deeper well. She dove into the Element of Magic, floating in her heart and on her flanks, held her breath and plunged into the pool of gleaming light far deeper than the deepest sea. She gave herself to Magic, letting it direct her, making sure it filled her with the instincts that allowed her to survive.

Now she was not so afraid. Swelling with a might beyond her wildest dreams, plunging into power she could scarcely have imagined, now she was not so unsure. So unto the fore came Twilight Sparkle, Magic given life, and great strength was with her. The Sun was in her right eye and the Moon was in her left. Dusk was at her hooves and starry Night was in the feathers of her wings. She came, and brought with her a light and force like great disaster, and she came through the Shadow unto Reiziger, who even in his might and terror stopped to marvel.

My, Twilight Sparkle, how you've grown up.

I have grown and I will put an end to you!

And then what will you do? Where will you go? The dirt of this world is not fit for hooves of light.

I don't care. I'm here to stop you, and right now that's all that matters!

Twilight breathed and summoned up her wrath. She loosed her fury and it crashed with every sound. However, Reiziger moved on and past the magic and the light, shadow swirling free of the unending purple. Instead Twilight beheld a city- Hoofington, she thought, for she could see its special tower- only for an instant before all of her power fell upon it and undid it and destroyed it utterly, leaving it a mere depression in the searing earth.

“No-” she whispered. Wings came to her then and with the swiftness of the air she shot high up into the sky.

Below her all the war of light and shadow raged like an unending sea. She could scarcely look beyond it, so great was the power that washed out and covered everything. When her eyes at last pierced through the beauty and the terror, though, Twilight saw disaster. Land for miles had been blasted burnt and black. Where there had been forests and great valleys and long fertile fields there now was only ash and dust. Even more, some portions of the Earth had been so utterly worn down that they had cracked and bled, molten lava flowing out and belching in red burning rock high to the sky. Fire, fire like the deepest depths of afterlife was flowing now; the sky was low and dark and red.

“What... what am I doing?” she whispered. “What have we done?”

She swung around at hover, and looked down. The lights of the Deer Elders flashed and blazed; they were incredible and powerful and terrible and beautiful. Yet for all their power and their wrath they broke upon the Shadow like the waves upon a shore. Fire burning hateful red was hot and bright as ever, all the depths of darkness had not yet been pierced by light.

The battle came at last to a great mountain range, whose lesser peaks were quickly smashed to dust. Upon the tallest and the highest mount appeared Reiziger. Darkness swelled about him. His eyes burned red like dying stars; a red disc like the setting sun was blazing just behind him. My, my, he muttered, voice and words like shadows all their own. I feel a bit outmatched. It is six on one, after all.

“Surrender, Herd Lord,” Fëanor's voice rang like piercing horns into the gloom. “Surrender, and we shall kill you swiftly. That is all the mercy you deserve.”

Death is my only option? You'll forgive me if I decline. Instead, I think I shall even the numbers a bit. His antlers shone with strange, unearthly light, and from the darkness all about him there rose fire.

Twilight swirled in power and in brilliance close at hand, close enough to see. She saw the fires blossom. She saw the burning eyes begin to stare out of the dark. A terror shivered up her spine. Rational decision quickly squelched it- her fear was the fear of fairy stories, bedtime tales, nightmares foals and fillies had that elders quickly put to rest. No, no, no no no such beasts did not exist, were merely gossip and daydreams of gossamer. Then there were the heavy steps, thunder thudding out of blackness and now Twilight was afraid for true, far more afraid than she had ever been before because something was stepping from the shadows, something, somethings with curling horns and wings that were not wings and bodies that were fire wrapped in darkness. Passing gentle magic over them she watched in terror beyond terror as they came out of the dark, only half a dozen but with power and with blackness and with horror that could never be forgotten. “No,” she whispered, “no, no.” Then one of the nightmares roared and stepped completely into blood-red light. Twilight gasped. “Ba... Balrogs!”

Glorfindel was first to move, flickering with power, and great wrath was on him. His sea green strength swelled up and surged- but then the balrog at the front advanced. It stretched its blackened, burning arm, and with a terror like the ending of the world Twilight watched as it swatted the great magic strength aside. Like the parting of a sea the balrogs tore up and undid the great spells of the high deer, leaving only blackness and despair.

“You would bring back such abominations?” seethed Fëanor.

Put nothing beyond me, Fëanor, said Reiziger's voice out of the Shadow. You remember them, don't you? The ones who killed your race, who burnt your green lands to ash? Built, constructed, engineered solely to destroy high deer!

He spoke the truth, or what truth Twilight had absorbed from all her ancient stories and folktales. Balrogs, in those old and awful stories, were so frequently the final test of heroines and princesses. Every story, every version of each story, told the same horrific truth: balrogs were impervious to magic. Now they came with fire and with darkness and with hate, looming like the very mountains they were melting in their flames, and so they came upon the Elders, and the Elders' brightness dimmed in woe.

The balrogs surged as a great shadow, falling on the golden and the turquoise and the purple light. Fëanor and Glorfindel and Twilight Sparkle fell back in the face of so much darkness and such terrifying heat, for in the balrogs' wake the air was burning and the land grew molten. Nona, Decima, and Morta thus turned in their lovely patterns to the Herd Lord, who now came on them with his fire and his teeth. Red and green and blue flashes of power blazed on him and shook the mountains and the valleys but Reiziger was stronger than them all. He slipped between them like a thief into a house and suddenly was in their midst, a blot of black amid their triple-colored brightness. Pretty dancers, he proclaimed, and then with teeth he lashed at three of them. Decima and Morta danced away but Nona, she who was the Past, could not pivot and so the blackened jaws were on her. The cosmos rocked as Reiziger, Scourge of the Red Deer, shook the mighty red deer left and right. He flung her to the heavens and then all his shadow and red fire seemed a pike that lanced and blazed-

Nona!” Morta shrieked, for she was pierced and then was burning- then was gone. The dance was broken, the waltz was stripped of its first step and so the other two were finished. Decima and Morta wailed and screamed, boiling burning tears now springing from their eyes as Reiziger came on them with his Shadow and was like the endless night, driving back the Light forever.

The Light, indeed, was dimmed by losing one great star. Shadow and great Fire now were swelling, burning, gobbling and gorging on the land, seething up into the reaches of the sky and blackening what should have been the day. The balrogs battered down upon the golden light of Fëanor, swirled with shadow and advanced upon the turquoise sea of Glorfindel. “Do not leave me!” Glorfindel exclaimed.

“I... I shall not,” said Fëanor, but even as he spoke there came in shadow Reiziger, wreathed in fire as though wrapped in robes of flame.

Shadow gathered round him yet again, less than it had been but somehow darker, blacker, deeper. You know, not every balrog is a new creation, came his voice, and every word brought fear into their hearts. I managed to find one of my old servants, sleeping at the depths of the Drackenridge Mountains.

There came a fire brighter, redder, hotter than all that before preceded it. It snaked and wrapped and wound and finally erupted in the silhouette of a great balrog, larger, thicker, grander and more terrible than the others that the elk and Twilight now combated, even as they watched in mounting dread. The massive balrog, strong and proud, stood next to his maker billowing with smoke. Fëanor looked on him and at last, at last, in his proud heart there came a spike of fear. The balrog's left eye was not there; where it should have been, a long and glowing scar ran down its head.

Reiziger's white teeth were sharp and awful in the shadows as they glinted, as he smiled. Yes... you remember Gothmog, don't you, Fëanor?

Fëanor's gold sunrise light, just for a moment, flickered. With a bellow Gothmog fell upon him, fire bursting from his hand in a great whip of flame. Fëanor batted aside the blow, but he retreated as he did, and Gothmog grinned as nothing but despair was seen upon the great elk's face.

“We have to help him!” Twilight said to Glorfindel. Even as she spoke, the other balrogs surged about them, Fire and great Shadow snuffing out all hope. One came onto Twilight in the surging of the night, fury in its burning eyes, claws licked by bright flame and black with sharpened hate. In her panic, in her worry, Twilight could not draw upon the Element of Magic. Instead she tapped a thing she nearly had forgotten, something Applejack had taught her long ago, a thing she had forgotten because unicorns could not use magic of earth ponies. She dug her hooves in, eyes turned gray, she stood firm-

And the balrog broke its fingers on her stone-hard back. It howled and screamed in pain, its agony dispelling all the doom it brought with it, if only for a while.

Twilight gasped in wonder. “Just like that?” she asked.

“Help!” cried Glorfindel, for now the balrogs came in darkness and in fire on him, laughing at his magics as they batted them aside. Twilight flew to him with flurrying dusk wings and caught him up and took a step- and both were gone. They reappeared upon a mountaintop, glancing over ruined land and time. The balrogs' heat, and the destruction of the mighty magics, had cracked the Earth apart all over, sending torrents of hot magma to the sky. Lava flowed in rivers through the burnt and ruined landscape, sending fire towering into the darkened sky.

“Are you all right?” asked Twilight.

“Where is Fëanor?” asked Glorfindel. The two swept eyes across the landscape, searching, seeking-

“There!” cried Twilight, for deep in the distance, in a rapidly expanding lake of lava, came the clash of golden radiance and hellish reddish flame.

Gothmog pressed upon great Fëanor, the High King of the Elk, Gil-Galad's beloved brother. And Fëanor did not lack courage, though fear was in his eyes, for balrogs in particular had helped to wipe the elk off of the Earth. Even so, his golden light and power burned as lovely and as wondrous as it ever did, til it seemed he had a star within his heart that billowed its great light into the magics he was wielding. Yet it was not enough, for Gothmog turned aside even these spells, glowing fire flail whipping and snapping, burning Fëanor many more times than once.

“Herd Lord!” shouted Fëanor into the black and burning sky. “Herd Lord!

Gothmog roared and lunged again. His power grew with every spell that hit him, until the fire licking at his shadowed wings was nearly white in heat.

“Show yourself!” cried Fëanor. “Face me, coward!” he charged at Gothmog, slipped beneath his claws and whip, and stuck him with an antler tine he'd coated in cold ice, sending out much steam and making Gothmog howl in rage. Fëanor lashed out and bucked and knocked Gothmog aside. “Where are you, Herd Lord?”

Fëanor... oh, poor, poor Fëanor...

“Show yourself!”

Look at you, and Reiziger's thoughts held the special lilt of mockery. Look at you! The last king of the elk! The fires rose and blood was on the breeze. A king of nothing!

Suddenly Reiziger was as massive of the universe, and all of shadow and of darkness was upon him like a diadem. His blast of power turned all of Creation crimson red, striking Fëanor through all his barriers and all his pride. The blast shivered his heart and lanced him with a terror he had never felt before. He leapt away- he fled! Fëanor the mighty, skittering and toppling back!

Your race is dead, Fëanor, the voice was coming from all heights and depths, and now it is time for you to join them!

Another blast of power and of hate lanced out and this time it caught Fëanor and hurt him. It vaporized his left back leg, turning it into a smoking stump. He howled in pain and fell, smashing hard into the black and burning earth. “Glorfindel!” he cried. The fire was so loud he was not sure he had been heard. “Nona, Decima, Morta!” No answer came again amid the towering red flames. “Twilight?” he asked, voice unsteady. “Twilight, where are you?” No answer as the flames roared. “Twilight?”

“Oh, Fëanor,” cooed the terrible dark voice. The fire parted. Reiziger stepped into the great blackened circle in the darkness at the ending of the world. “How utterly pathetic.”

“H-Herd Lord...” he scampered back upon his three legs.

“This is rather familiar, really,” said Reiziger, tapping his chin with his hoof. “Where did I see this before? Could it be- oh, yes! That look in your eyes. I saw that in your brother's eyes before I killed him.” Reiziger smiled wide, showing all his white and razor teeth. “All you elk, all you high deer, all you freedom fighters and defenders of the deerfolk, high and low alike. You're all so grand, so great, so beautiful, so noble, so elegant. So perfect and magnificent... until you're cornered.” The burning red eyes bulged. “Then I always see it! The fear! The terror! It's like watching a dog drown in a river. All your ideas of superiority melt away and you're nothing but animals!” He flickered forward-

“I-” said Fëanor-

Reiziger was on him then. He wrapped his strong black legs round Fëanor's left antler, he bent, he pulled, he twisted, putting all his awful strength into the motion of his black and vicious body. There was a pulling, then a twisting, then a-


And Fëanor's left antler snapped off, falling in a clatter on the ground. Fëanor jerked back but could not shake Reiziger's grip, which shifted rapidly to the right side of his great head, around the right antler, and pulled, and jerked, and bent, and twisted-


Off too came the right antler. Twilight Sparkle then appeared above, flying in the fiery breeze. She looked down then. Fëanor looked up at her. She saw his eyes. She saw the desperation there. He was begging. She flew down. “Stop!”

“Oh, Twilight Sparkle,” chuckled Reiziger, turning round and letting Fëanor collapse onto the dirt. “You're just in time to see your teacher meet his end.”

“I won't... I won't let you!”

“What are you going to do, then, little alicorn? Stop me? Go on and try!”

Twilight bit her lip and channeled all her power, raised the Sun and Moon, stood with starlight on her coat-

There came a flicker of many an image in her mind. She saw the day she'd first arrived in Ponyville. She felt the tight embrace of all her friends. She felt her sides shake with the laughter she had felt at one of Spike's old jokes. She smiled at the touch of Rarity's tape measurer upon her flanks. She sighed at the soft quietude of Fluttershy's old cottage. She laughed as she did loop-de-loops with Rainbow Dash. She gobbled up many a tasty treat with Pinkie Pie. She learned to tend to harvest trees with Applejack-

Her magic wouldn't come. “What-”

“Oh, never mind,” and Reiziger's antlers erupted with great power. He blasted her away. She managed to raise up a shield in time to block the fire and the darkness, but the force carried her back and over the great wall of flame that rose about the fallen elken king and his Destroyer. Now, where were we? He turned back toward Fëanor, broken and bereft of antlers on the ground. “Ah, yes, your end,” and now he turned around. Gothmog stepped out of the fire. The massive balrog burned a specially red flame within his body, hot enough to turn the air blood red for miles. Fëanor breathed desperate in and out. “You know, Fëanor, I'll miss you. You were a worthy foe. When you're dead, all I'll have is... why, all I'll have is gobbling up ponies. Even in my hate of you, I confess there is nothing like a good high deer.” He shrugged his shadowy black sides. “Oh, well. All good things must end.” He turned away. Gothmog stepped forward, fire growing brighter in his shadowed depths.

“At least do it yourself!” cried Fëanor in desperation.

“And give you the satisfaction, even in death? No- not ever!” Reiziger at last turned back. He grinned, that awful, awful grin. “Gothmog, if you would?”

Gothmog grinned, fire bursting from the gaps between his teeth. He took a massive breath, his body burned white hot, and then he belched out an enormous stream of fire-

No!” cried Glorfindel, who flickered through the wall of flame just as the final flash of white came forth. The shockwave was a pulse of gentle light that swelled over the blackened hills, soft, quiet, but still steeped in a bitter tang. Glorfindel fell to his knees. “No,” he whispered, tears leaking from his turquoise eyes. “No, no, no, please, please!”

Reiziger turned toward him. “Kill that one, as well. Let us end the elk once and for all.” Glorfindel could only kneel and weep as Gothmog breathed in yet again-

“No!” Twilight shot down in a streak of purple, finally regaining her ability to move. She grabbed Glorfindel and she took a step and teleported both of them onto the mountaintop where she had seen the glimmering of green and blue. Decima and Morta knelt amid the melting heights of Heaven, weeping, bawling, totally undone.

“What... what... no!” cried Glorfindel.

“Nona...” bawled Decima.

“Nona!” bellowed Morta.

“Look,” said Twilight, “come on, focus, we... we... we have to retreat! It's over! It didn't work! We have to... we have to get back to the Enclave!” The balrogs came from all directions, fire burning on their backs and in their hearts. “We have to teleport away! If we don't do it now, the balrogs will crowd in and the teleport spells won't work!” Reiziger's dark Shadow surged at them. Twilight flew up and this time her magic did work, for she cast a purple shield spell that repelled the pitch black burst. “We have to go!” She cried. “We have to leave! We have to- we have to-”

Then another burst of magic hit her, and she knew no more.

That evening, fires burned all up and down the skies. The landscape had been scorched and blazed, and ruined in many a place. It was a Hellscape now, the land beyond Reiziger's castle. The cracked and broken Earth still vomited up lava at a moment's notice. Reiziger, however, did not care. Why should he have? He had already drained the land of life. “Hmm, hmm,” he hummed, smiling brightly as he worked his crimson magic. Held aloft in his red aura, Fëanor's two antlers slotted into place upon the left and right sides of the seatback of his throne. He cocked his head and narrowed up his eyes, trying to decide just how best to align them. He needed them to be exactly right... “There!” he brightly said. They seemed perfectly placed in his perfected estimation. He grinned, white teeth flashing in the cold cruel light inside his castle. “Excellent.”

He climbed up to his throne then, and he sat on it. He sighed. He'd won today, and wiped out his last, greatest adversary. He was full at peace. There were no more concerns-


He whipped his head around. His Gift of Laughter billowed through the space, searching for stray thoughts. He swore he had felt something. There was all quiet in the vast and blackened halls-

What? What is this?

A whisper, no, a ripple tickled through the shadows. It was a ghost upon the wind, an echo of something he'd long ago forgotten. It smelled like something. It smelled soft and vaguely... sugary? He stood up.

Who is it? No response. Who's there? His antlers flashed and burned with crimson power. Show yourself! He felt them close so all his magic surged and flung open the throne room doors. His eyes went wide.

There she stood, somehow bright even amid the darkness. Her blue eyes stared unfailing up at him. She smiled, and the gloom around her fled away. “Hey there, Reiziger,” said Pinkie Pie. “Wanna play a game?”

Author's Note:

For a deer, there is nothing more degrading and humiliating than being stripped of one's antlers. It is the ultimate disrespect, something even sworn foes are reluctant to do when given the opportunity. It is in essence a kind of castration- because, of course, without their antlers deer cannot do magic.

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